Caffeine Does Have Benefits

There has been a good bit of unfavorable publicity regarding both chocolate and caffeine.  In excess both products may have negative effects on the body.

However, for most people, when used in moderation, both chocolate and caffeine can have some beneficial effects.

If you have a problem with your system handling sugar, such as diabetes, or you are trying to take off some weight, then you know you should not be eating chocolate.  Instead, you should be eating something with more nutritional value.   Chocolate should never be the mainstay of anyone’s diet.

Some people have a sensitivity to either chocolate or caffeine or both.  Caffeine can cause anxiety, an increased heart rate, nausea (especially if taken on an empty stomach) and even depression.

There have been studies which indicate caffeine blocks the neurotransmitter in the brain (adenosine) that makes us feel tired.  Caffeine also encourages the release of dopamine which is another brain chemical.  Dopamine helps give a feeling of well-being.  The changes to the brain may be why we use caffeine if we are trying to complete some project and want to stay awake and alert.

Other studies indicate that caffeine drinks like coffee and tea may have a protective effect for those at risk of developing liver disease.  Some causes of or high risk for liver disease include alcoholism, obesity, hepatitis B or C and other medical issues.

The study indicated that there was a 44% lower chance of at risk subjects showing liver damage if they consumed more than 2 cups of coffee a day.  Those who did not drink coffee did not show the same results.  The study did not indicate the reason why the coffee or tea had this effect on liver damage.  Both coffee and tea contain a wide range of plant chemicals known as phytonutrients and these could be responsible for the benefit realized from drinking coffee or tea.   Another study found similar benefits from drinking coffee with regard to liver disease.  Additionally, this study indicated that drinking 3 cups of coffee daily may lower the risk of death from liver cirrhosis.

Caffeine may enhance short term memory.  Research in Austria found that after drinking coffee there was an increase in brain activity in the parts of the brain associated with memory and attention.  This was determined by measuring the brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging.  The parts of the brain indicating increased activity were the frontal lobe and the anterior cingulum.  The study was placebo based.  This means that some subjects received caffeine and others did not.  Those receiving caffeine showed the increased brain activity.  Those receiving the placebo did not indicate increased brain activity.

Caffeine can also block a chemical in the brain which has a calming effect.  This chemical is known as adenosine.  Caffeine blocks this calming chemical so we may become anxious since we have lost some of our ability to feel calm.

We know that caffeine does influence our brain chemicals and we don’t want to use it to excess.  Some people who are sensitive to the product should stay away from any caffeine.  For most people caffeine, in moderation, can be a good thing.good-coffee